The second day of International Symposium on Online Journalism offered a refreshing look at international innovative initiatives.
in South Africa, almost 100% of families have access to cellphones, while broadband access is growing but slowly. While bandwidth is rising, the prices are prohibitive. And, said Dugmore, mobile costs too are still comparatively high.
The figures for mobile are staggering. Dugmore said 36m out of 50m people have cellphones and there are more SIM cards than population, as people swap cards to call each other and avoid connectivity fees.
Dugmore showed a map of democracy in Africa and superimposed a map of mobile connectivity. It showed an almost 100% match between connectivity and democracy.
His program, the News is Coming, provides journalism training to people so that they can report the news themselves.
But the big growth is in instant messaging, using systems such as MXit which lower the cost of messaging.
Given these trends, Dugmore’s group has been working on a CMS customised for receiving news via cellphone, called the Nika Digital Newsroom.
Dugmore concluded by emphasising three points:
- embrace user-generated input, providing training, editing and some cash incentives
- shift to mobile and web first, print second
- content out through mobile-friendly platforms
Innovation in Spain
La Informacion uses algorithms to analyse real-time trends and categorise information. But there is a human newsroom too, with 30 journalists who are digital natives, said Tascon.
There is a focus on design, with an editor deciding the make-up of the front page, with an emphasis on strong visual impact.
Tascon said they were also trying to create new narratives, showing an example of a interactive map of the island in the TV series Lost.
He also showed a panoramic images that allow the user to focus on a specific section of the photo. Another example was a collaborative online book, Cadaverex, created by user contributions.
The site is funded to the tune of 23m euros for five years from investors.
Business models in Mexico
The third example was from Mexico – Reporte Indigo, The site has some free content, but offers a premium service based on hard and local news, introduced just three months ago. Three out of its seven sections went behind a pay wall in January.
International section editor Juan Anonio Zertouche described what the online magazine does as “brain media”. It combines professional journalists with interns. The site has a strong visual and multimedia emphasis.
The site has about 1.2m users. But it is now waiting to see if its users are willing to pay for national and local news.
Zertouche said paying for content online was not common in Mexico. But he said they did not have figures yet to see if the premium strategy was working.
This is the big question, and Zertouche joked that the symposium could invite him back next year to report whether users were willing to pay for content.